Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2021-240
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2021-240

  01 Oct 2021

01 Oct 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Mesoscale variations in the assemblage structure and trophodynamics of mesozooplankton communities of the Adriatic basin (Mediterranean Sea)

Emanuela Fanelli1,2, Samuele Menicucci1, Sara Malavolti3, Andrea De Felice3, and Iole Leonori3 Emanuela Fanelli et al.
  • 1Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, Polytechnic University of Marche, Via Brecce Bianche 60131, Ancona (Italy)
  • 2Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale, Naples (Italy)
  • 3CNR IRBIM National Research Council - Institute of Marine Biological Resources and Biotechnologies, SS Ancona, Largo Fiera della Pesca, 1 - 60125, Ancona (Italy)

Abstract. Zooplankton are critical to the functioning of ocean food webs because of their utter abundance and vital ecosystem roles. Zooplankton communities are highly diverse and thus perform a variety of ecosystem functions, thus changes in their community or food web structure may provide evidence of ecosystem alteration. Assemblage structure and trophodynamics of mesozooplantkon communities were examined across the Adriatic basin, the northernmost and most productive basin of the Mediterranean Sea. Samples were collected in June–July 2019 along coast-offshore transects covering the whole western Adriatic side, consistently environmental variables were also recorded. Results showed a clear separation between samples from the northern-central Adriatic and the southern ones, with a further segregation, although less clear, of inshore vs. off-shore stations, the latter mostly dominated in the central and southern stations by gelatinous plankton. Such patterns were mainly driven by chlorophyll-a concentration (as a proxy of primary production) for northern-central stations, i.e. closer to the Po river input, and by temperature and salinity, for southern ones, with the DistLM model explaining 46 % of total variance. The analysis of stable isotopes of nitrogen and carbon allowed to identify a complex food web characterized by 3 trophic levels from herbivores to carnivores, passing through the mixed feeding behavior of omnivores, shifting from phytoplankton/detritus ingestion to microzooplankton. Trophic structure also spatially varied according to sub-area, with the northern-central sub-areas differing from each other and from the southern stations. Our results highlighted the importance of environmental variables as drivers of zooplanktonic communities and the complex structure of their food webs. Disentangling and considering such complexity is crucial to generate realistic predictions on the functioning of aquatic ecosystems, especially in high productive and, at the same time, overexploited area such as the Adriatic Sea.

Emanuela Fanelli et al.

Status: open (until 14 Nov 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • AC1: 'Comment on bg-2021-240', Emanuela Fanelli, 07 Oct 2021 reply

Emanuela Fanelli et al.

Emanuela Fanelli et al.

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Short summary
Zooplankton play a key role in marine ecosystems, representing the base of marine food webs and a link between primary producers and higher-order consumers, such as fishes. This aspect is crucial in the Adriatic basin, one of the most productive and overexpoited area of the Mediterranean Sea. Thus, a better understanding of communities' and food web structure, and their response to water masses' changes is essential under a global warming scenario, being zooplankton sensitive to climate change.
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